Der 30 EUR Ringmaulschlüsselsatz und seine Maßhaltigkeit

Dieser Tage musste ich eine neue Badewannenarmatur montieren, weil sich der Vorgänger trotz Kartuschen-Überholung mit Armaturen-/Hahnfett nicht mehr zur vollen Dichtigkeit überreden ließ. Außerdem war es mal Zeit für einen Wechsel. Die verchromten Überwurfmuttern sollte man laut der Anleitung mit einem 30mm Schraubenschlüssel anziehen, aber weil meine Schraubenschlüsselsammlung bis dahin nur bis Größe 22 ging, und selbst diese nur als Ringschlüssel vorhanden war, griff ich notgedrungen zur altbewährten Wasserzange, die mit einem Handtuch unterlegt war. Eine Armaturenzange mit Schonbacken wollte ich mir für diesen einmaligen Anwendungzweck nicht zulegen und zur Not geht es mit der Wasserzange auch immer, aber als Technikmensch ärgert es einen natürlich schon, wenn das falsche Werkzeug am Start ist.

Das Leben ist zu kurz für das falsche Werkzeug. Das erkannte ich spät, aber dennoch vor einigen Jahren, als ich für meine diversen Handyreparaturen und Repaircafé-Aktivitäten den ganzen China-Schrott entsorgte und dafür meine geliebten Wera, Wiha und Gedore Schraubendreher organisierte.

JKE toolset
Bild 1: Meine bisherige Sammlung an Maul-/Gabel- und Ringschlüsseln in einer günstig nachgekauften Transporttasche.

Continue reading “Der 30 EUR Ringmaulschlüsselsatz und seine Maßhaltigkeit”

Dann also zu mir.

BMW-JKE

Als ich mein erstes und letztes Auto – einen ’89 VW Golf 2 – Mitte 2006 für 150 EUR an einen verrückten Bastler in der Lüneburger Heide verkaufte, verspürte ich einen kurzen Trennungsschmerz, genoss dann aber die Freiheit, die ein Autofreies Leben mit sich bringt. In einer Stadt wie Frankfurt braucht man eigentlich kein Auto, weil man für die Parkplatzsuche oft länger als für die eigentliche Fahrtstrecke braucht und alle wichtigen Ziele auch anderweitig zu erreichen sind.

Continue reading “Dann also zu mir.”

Hallo ihr Lieben…. #haul

“Hallo ihr Lieben” (hello my dear) is the greeting form used on most German haul videos – this peculiar internet meme where young girls present their latest hauls (~ purchases from recent shopping sprees). The content of these videos probably says a lot about the (un)importance in today’s world, but it should also be mentioned that my fiancée likes them, at least for the make-up tips. She’s a teacher and needs these videos with no actual content to calm down after a long day of work. Yes, I love her nevertheless. And because I am such a geek who equally likes to show off his latest deals, here’s my attempt at doing so:

Leatherman sheaths (yes, again…)

After my recent trouble with Leatherman Germany which resulted in paying EUR 36 for a new Leatherman Charge TTi, I thought about the need for another multitool sheath. Now, the sheath issue isn’t new to me as I’ve often talked about it here and even on instructables. Leatherman delivers their multitools with different sheath, but they are all not that perfect, especially since some tools also come with a bit set which often doesn’t fit in a sheath along with the tool itself.

the new collection

So after receiving the Charge TTi with a revised sheath, I decided to buy a Leatherman Molle sheath. MOLLE stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment and is the “de facto standard for modular tactical gear”. It’s a great system, but since I usually don’t wear any military clothes (nor have a need for that), I was rather interested in the sheath itself and how well it would accommodate the multitool, not really worrying about the MOLLE system that would have to work out on my belt.

Leatherman MOLLEThe Leathman MOLLE sheath with a Leatherman Charge TTi and the bit kit. And an LED LENSER P2 led torch that won’t fit in there. Bad :-(

Leatherman MOLLE

Well, it just doesn’t work for me. It has some nice details, but since it’s too small and also doesn’t even fit the tool nor the extra LED torch, it will have to go back on sale via eBay. Ah, it could be worse.

Next up was an advertisement I’d seen via multitool.org – a great forum on multitools and other EDC stuff. It’s amazing to see how much and how often people can talk about these tools, but then – I’ve recently learned that these brands we’re passionate about are called “love brands”. If you like Arsenal or Ferrari F1, then those are your love brands. Mine is Leatherman. Obviously :-)

The Skinth OG

So this ad I’d seen was for a new kind of sheath called “Skinth Solutions“, made by a Canadian designer/photographer who’s also into multitools. I saw it and instantly fell in love with it. Given that I had already invested so much time and money into this hobby of mine (~ creating sheaths for tools), I knew I had to order mine from Canada – and just did that. It’s expensive (for me in .DE), it’s simple, it just works, it wins.

I later on realized that the Skinth had also been developed in close collaboration with other multitool.org users. It’s a crowdsourced product, somehow. Made by someone who cares and had MY tool in mind when he created the product.

Skinth OG

Skinth OG

The Skinth OG isn’t perfect, it still has some issues, but it’s what Leatherman should have come up with in the first place.

The issue I am currently experiencing is that the torch doesn’t fit – and a few days after ordering mine, the Skinth Sparton OG came out which looks like the ultimate sheath Skinth to me. Hmmm…..

the bunch

In terms of overall height – which is the most important criterion I have as most Leatherman sheaths are just too bulky when fully loaded – the Skinth beats all others. It’s even slimmer than my DIY leather sheaths (which aren’t pictured).

Going by the torch issue, I may swap the Skinth OG for a Skinth Spartan OG. The torch just can’t be fully inserted on the Skinth OG and that’s just bad for my needs. It’s too long for the side pockets.

Nevertheless of this issue, the Skinth sheaths (check out their Facebook page!) are still cool. Juli, the social media manager at Leatherman, told me that “sheath are a very personal issue”, which is why they’re having problems creating good sheaths that will please everyone equally. The Skinth collection, however, instantly convinced me. If you’re still searching for a nice sheath for your multitool, then please try them!

Eric, the maker behind the Skinth collection, also just dropped me an e-mail, telling me that there’s a chance to “undo the stitches that pin the pockets down” which will sort-of solve my issue with the current version. I will try that as it seems to be the best solution atm. Thx, Eric!

Edit: this just worked out fine! W000t! :-)

Skinth OG

 

PalmMicro

My recent move to the (Free and Hanseatic City of) Hamburg made me pick up a brand new VoIP telephone via eBay Germany. Just EUR 9 for a factory sealed phone ex 2005 from a clearance sale (TelDaFax!) that only works via LAN and requires a VoIP account – I am using Sipgate which are very reliable in Germany. It also is my office number in Frankfurt, so I like to have this with me and not on a Nokia or Apple device in form of an app as this would only drain the battery. Sipgate is cool, this phone…well, it was cheap.

My previous experience with cheaper VoIP phones is rather bad. I am not talking about USB phones (which would require a computer to be online), btw. If I was in need of a professional version with more than one account, I would probably go for a Grandstream phone (where the cheapest will cost about EUR 50 in Germany). On the other hand – there would be no hacking challenge :-)

Primeworx P100

A quick search via Google revealed that most of the phones weren’t delivered with this ugly red frame – and I was lucky to receive it in black colour:

Primeworx P100

The booting telephone…

The pictured Primeworx P100 is the same as the Global IPtel G100, Cistrix CT-100, Siptronic ST-102 and probably some other brands and is based on the PA1688 chip, a low-cost VoIP chip.

It took me several hours / three evenings to eventually debrand the internal firmware and swap it for one of those available online. And since my phone was made in 2005, the website of the distributor is already offline. After some cross-reading here and there, I found this wonderful resource online: PalmMicro – a private site/blog run by a Chinese in the USA who worked in the dev team at PalmMicro/Centrality where they designed the chip, created reference boards and also compiled the firmware. It’s probably as close as you can get to a system – directly talking to former developers who will respond in time – and his blog is also recommendable for the views on hardware development in China and restrictions set by the Great Firewall in China. Reading between the lines, you quickly realize that it’s often just a few smaller companies who create chips and reference boards which are then copied by the industry and sold for a period of a few years. It very much reminds me of the Qualcomm 3G modems we all have in our business laptops with their often undocumented GPS functionality (ask Lenovo, HP, etc.). Anyways. PalmMicro rocks and if you are still in need of recent firmware (as recent as January 2012!) for your cheap VoIP phone, PalmMicro is the place to visit for your Global IPtel G100, Cistrix CT-100, Siptronic ST-102 or Primeworx P100.

AOB:

Werder

Many people often ask me, which football team I support. I actually don’t care about football/soccer and am often scared by their aggressive hooligans fans, so this picture of a lighter I bought today should answer all open questions. :-)

Have a nice week!

My experiences with Leatherman Germany, or: why passion matters.

Good news and bad news. Twice.

The good news is that I have a new job in a new town city, the bad news is that the place is so damn expensive that everything I earn will be wasted on a place to sleep as well as on food. The bad news also includes a very low payment. But I chose this path because it helps me shaping my professional profile and interests (which are various).

The other bad-news-good-news-story is a bit more complicated. The recent move to the new place made me pick up my broken Leatherman Charge TTi multitool (yeah, another gadget post – sry, gals :-) and have it sent to Leatherman Germany for a service repair under warranty.

You’ll need to know that Leatherman multitools come with a 25year warranty. Most broken tools will either be repaired or replaced. It’s a great and decent service by a serious company. I love most of their products and am part of the “Leatherheads Anonymous” addicts group on Facebook. These tools turn me on. Geek pr0n, you name it. Needless to say that I do not only have one, but five such multitools. I actually only need one, a working one in good condition, and my Charge TTi urgently needed some professional help.

Some history
Leatherman Inc. recently acquired a majority interest in Zweibrüder Optoelectronics in Solingen/Germany, who are known for their quality LED Lenser flashlights. This obviously happened because consumers who are willing to invest EUR 30 and more on a decent flashlight will probably also go and buy a EUR 100+ multitool. It’s the sales channels they are interesting in, and it’s a smart move.

This development, however, also meant that Leatherman Germany had to pick up the corporate design and philosophy of their US mother – and if you have ever dealt with a German sales person in service, you’ll quickly understand that “good service” in Germany and the USA are two completely different concepts. German “service quality” is about the engineering of the product (and only the product), US “service quality” is more about emotions. You can read up more on this in Clotaire Rapaille’s book on Culture Codes.

Service Quality?
I have no idea when the concept of German accuracy got lost, but what I received in return from Leatherman Germany was just below ANYTHING, below any quality standard ever I’ve come across so far. And what I had to complain about wasn’t some kinky German non-issue (like a scratch or so), but that they had only made the tool worse. Much worse.

There are these security Torx screws on Leatherman multitools, so you just can not mess with it (and it would also void the warranty). What they had done was to unfasten one of the screws which resulted in a wobbly saw blade – and on the other side of the tool the screws were too tight that I couldn’t open all the tools inside the (miss aligned) handles. The multitool was rendered useless – and returned to me in such a state.

This really pissed me off.

I had read so many positive reviews about the Leatherman customer service which made me send in my fifth tool in the first place. After all these years without any troubles, I eventually needed to make use of the warranty service – and then they mess it up.

Markets are conversations.
( – The Cluetrain Manifest, # 1 / 95)

As a result of the failed repair, but more importantly that they had the guts to return the tool in such a state, my trust in the German branch was lost and I decided to report my negative experience on the Facebook wall of Leatherman USA.

I received an instant reply (within five minutes!) from a very kind person at Leatherman USA who a) really took this issue serious, b) apologized on behalf of Leatherman Inc. and c) made sure I receive a brand new tool directly from the factory line.

The story could end here and all would be well, but it unfortunately continues – with some more WTH?!-moments:

The day after that e-mail & Facebook conversation with Leatherman USA, I received a phone call by Leatherman Germany. The guy on the other end of the line – well…. if this was my company, I would send him on a customer training. First of all, he wouldn’t let me explain the situation, then he replied in a snobbish manner and then he tried to bribe me with some “extras”.

Dear Leatherman Germany, please stop the crap next time and just make us have a positive experience when we are in contact with you. And with “we” I am talking about all German customers. The attitude shown during the phone call corresponded well with the delivered repair, to say the least.

my broken Leatherman Charge TTi

He went on explaining that they only recently took over the repair service on behalf of Leatherman (“you were customer number 20…”) and that they still need to learn on how to handle such situations. That’s ok to me, but to be honest: you can not tell your client (who still has a problem which needs to be solved asap!) something like “uhhm, u know we messed up because we’re still not experienced enough…”, even if it’s the truth. “Yes, we have never repaired Ferraris before, but uhm, let us try, it can not to be that hard…” – see? And then of course if you are still inexperienced and I am client number 20, then it MAY be smarter not to repair the knife, but instead give me another one (wouldn’t need to be a new one) or send it to someone who knows what he’s supposed to do.

So after a hefty dispute on the phone (I normally don’t do that, but the guy on the phone was such an arrogant person which prompted me to reply), we settled on him sending me “something small” in return for the expenses I had with Leatherman so far and that I would return my broken Charge TTi a second time for them to see what was wrong.

LED LENSER T7

A few days later on I received a parcel with a) an LED LENSER T7 flashlight (which has a market value of about EUR 30 on eBay) and b) a Leatherman leather sheath for a range of tools I do not own (= useless). Free of charge, a gift from Leatherman Germany for the troubles I had with them. That’s very nice!

The flashlight is nice – a bit too big for me, but the free and unexpected gift is still appreciated. The sheath – well…. it’s useless to me. I’ve put both items on sale at eBay because they are brand new and because I need to cover my expenses.

Expenses? Yes, Leatherman USA, or rather an uncapable UPS courier service, messed it up a second time which resulted in me having to pay another EUR 36 on import taxes for the brand new Charge TTi which came as a replacement. So both sales of the above mentioned “free gifts” will have to cover my costs. Which is ok. It’s extra work, it’s partly my mistake because I accepted the US parcel instead of asking for a duty-free version (and waiting for another week), but in the end I managed to have my Charge TTi exchanged for a working version (my old Charge TTi wasn’t only broken, it also had quality issues ex factory) and paid only a few extra Euros. The money, uh well. Forget about it.

The replacement tool is so much better. I should have requested a replacement for my Charge TTi right from the very start. The Charge TTi line is known for having quality issues, and mine was part of those faulty multitools.

And Leatherman Germany? No response from them whatsoever since receiving the “free gifts”. Not so Leatherman USA who really impressed me with their understanding of quality service and human communication. I hope they will train their German colleagues accordingly.

If there is anything like a silver lining to all of this then it’s probably the insight that good customer service does not depend on a trained concept, but more importantly that it depends on passion.

Passion is the driving force behind a lot of things – and if there’s anything I appreciate in others then it’s their passion for a good cause or good products. It’s so important and clearly shows when it’s absent.

P.S.-1: I take it that the folks of Letherman Germany are passionate about their LED flashlights, because if they act the same way on their flashlights as they did with my Leatherman then we may have a problem…

P.S.-2: Facebook may not be used by everyone, but it’s an interesting marketing instrument and channel for direct interactions with your customers. On the US (=international) Facebook channel of Leatherman they do not only respond in time and very fast, but also deliver follow-ups to problems. They really care. From my .DE point of view, this certainly is a very new experience and highly appreciated.

To all German Leatherman owners who need to make use of the warranty service: viel Erfolg!